Photo credit: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The fight against sexual violence in conflict continues to gain momentum in the international community, and this is evidenced no better than the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, taking place in London from 10-13 June 2014. This landmark event will bring together all governments who have endorsed the UN Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, as well as practitioners and representatives (and/or survivors) from around the world for 4 days of innovation and debate.
As opposed to just discourse or empty promises, this gathering, the largest of its kind to date, is intended to create action on the ground and to provide impetus for the movement against sexual violence in conflict. The UN Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict is currently endorsed by two-thirds of all members of the UN, and, while it does send a message that victims of sexual violence in conflict should and will be provided with the opportunity to see justice and perpetrators appropriately charged, it is at the moment merely a piece of paper.
It is simple enough to bring people together for conferences. The real trick is to inspire and create change, to move from talk to action and promises. This is, of course, much easier said than done, but therein lies both the most difficult and rewarding aspect of this scenario, for without such stimulus these conferences may as well not occur.
This will be the largest conference on sexual violence to ever happen – let us hope that all participants, in particular the governments involved, not only take it seriously, but go into this important moment in history with the real intention to create change.
This post was written by Megan Nobert, a PhD Candidate in Law and independent consultant on international criminal law, human rights and gender equality.